Tracy Dickinson Celebration of Life

The Lake Erie College community is sad to report the death of Ms. Tracy Harrington Dickinson ’78 who passed away the evening of Jan. 30, 2018.

The daughter of Fairleigh Dickinson, Jr. and Betty Harrington Dickinson and granddaughter of Colonel Fairleigh S. Dickinson, Tracy first learned of Lake Erie College by recommendation of a family friend. Following her first visit to campus in the summer of 1974, her presence at the College became undeniable.

A native of New Jersey, Tracy was drawn to the College’s winter term abroad program, a former hallmark of the LEC curriculum. She spent three months studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain before graduating in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music history and a minor in Spanish.

After graduation, Tracy’s career led her primarily to the health care field where she worked in various capacities. She was a certified medical technician in New York where she helped administer first aid after the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Additionally, she served as a board-certified respiratory therapist for six years, a board-certified surgical technician for one year and an EMT for Allendale Ambulance Corps in New Jersey for 20 years, among other roles.

Tracy’s philanthropic spirit led her to serve on the Board of Directors for the Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey for three years and for the Endometriosis Association (EA) for 27 years. She endowed the Tracy H. Dickinson Epigenetics Laboratory at Vanderbilt University, helped expand the EA’s work on dioxin and immune aspects of endometriosis, and endowed a research chair for Dartmouth Medical School in 1994. She also supported The Seeing Eye, Inc., an organization providing Seeing Eye dogs to blind people, and the Park Ridge Police Department in Park Ridge, N.J.

Perhaps Tracy’s proudest role was that of a trustee for her beloved alma mater, where she served as a member of the board beginning in 1991. She visited campus frequently to stay in Mathews House, her home away from home, where the alumni staff outfitted her bedroom with towels and sheets in her favorite color, purple. Mathews House, originally designed by Jonathon Goldsmith, was recently repainted thanks to Tracy's support. Tracy was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award by the College in 1999 before being named a Sesquicentennial Fellow at the 2000 commencement in recognition of her many years of support.

A series of generous gifts over the years made Tracy Dickinson a household name at Lake Erie. Her generosity helped to preserve the College Hall tower, renovate the dining room of the Arthur S. Holden Center, develop an administrative suite in the Jerome T. Osborne Family Athletic & Wellness Center, and establish a digital media lab in the James F. Lincoln Library. She also funded the creation of a lecture hall in Austin Hall of Science, an entry parlor in College Hall, and provided the lead gift for the construction of a residence hall that opened in 2002. Each of these areas on campus bears Tracy’s name.

In addition to enjoying the many spaces on campus that Tracy supported, countless Lake Erie students have benefited directly from her generosity by way of the many scholarships she endowed. Tracy’s legacy at LEC lives on through current students who receive the Tracy Harrington Dickinson Environmental Scholarship, the Tracy Harrington Dickinson Liberal Arts Scholarships, or the Tracy Dickinson Honored Professions Scholarship. Tracy also helped establish the Harold Fink Endowed Memorial Music Scholarship Fund in honor of her mentor, Professor Fink, who headed the music and fine arts departments from 1952-1987.

Of the many gifts Tracy made to the College, the most profound of all was that of her presence. Those who knew Tracy had the pleasure of hearing her tell her stories, each marked by her distinct charm and sense of humor. Whether she was recounting the time she served as an extra in the movie “Jaws” or the time she drove a NASCAR racing car at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina, by the end of the story listeners felt lucky to have gotten to know her a little better.

Tracy often said it brought her joy to give back to the school that meant so much to her. Over the years, Tracy herself grew to mean so much to the College community. She will be greatly missed by the many people she touched with her kindness and generosity.

Details regarding a memorial service for Tracy will be announced as they become available.

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